Celiac disease is an autoimmune inherited condition that affects one out of 133 people in the United States today. Gluten, the common name for proteins in specific grains, can create a toxic reaction that damages the small intestine. When the damage to the small intestine occurs, food cannot be properly absorbed and can cause a host of issues in the body. If celiac disease is left untreated in the body, damage to the small bowel will occur, which can be life threatening and increase the risk of contracting other disorders. Another form of celiac disease is dermatitis herpetiformis, the skin manifestation of the disease, which can lead to blistery itchy skin. Patients with this form of celiac can have intestinal damage without having any of the typical gastrointestinal signs.
The cause of celiac disease, a gluten sensitive enteropathy, is a mystery to the medical world, but is known for sure to be inherited. Often times when a family member is diagnosed with the disease it is recommend that all family members get tested to be sure they do not have it. Celiac disease can be dormant in the body for years before getting any symptoms. Traumatic events to the body such as child birth, viral infections, or severe stress can trigger the disease to rise. Classic celiac symptoms are abdominal cramping, bloating of the stomach, chronic fecal issues, and unexplained weight gain/loss or bone/joint pain. Specific antibody tests can be done to properly diagnose the patient,, but a gluten-free diet must be followed for at least 4 weeks for the test to be accurate. The only treatments for these two chronic disorders are lifelong adherence to the gluten-free diet with no room for error. Adapting to this change is not easy and will take practice to do things such as; reading labels to identify hidden gluten ingredients. Celiac disease can cause major shifts in a personâ€™s lifestyle,Â but following the proper diet can lead to a pain free life.